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Terms of use


What is a notary public?

Notarial practice

Authentication of the notarial act

"Public documents" under the Apostille Convention


"My commission expires ..."

When a notary will decline to intervene

Affidavits, declarations and other documents

Copies of academic and education credentials

Foreign language documents

International wills

The origins of the notary's seal

About me

David Thomas Banner

3, Sussex Terrace, Hawthorn, South Australia 5062
Telephone: 0435 588 775
(International: + 61 435 588 775)


The Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will, known as the Washington Convention ("the Convention"), was adopted in Washington DC on 26 October, 1973. The text comprises 16 articles stating the obligations of the contracting states, plus an Annex of 15 articles entitled Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will ("the Uniform Law"). The most significant obligation of the contracting states is to introduce the Uniform Law into their respective domestic legal systems.

Australia acceded to the Convention on 10 September, 2014 and it entered into force for Australia on 10 March, 2015. All Australian jurisdictions have amended their wills legislation to incorporate the Uniform Law as part of their law relating to wills. In South Australia, those amendments (Part 3A of the Wills Act 1936) commenced operation on 22 November, 2014.

This page shows the current status of the Convention, including the countries for which the Convention has entered into force.

Effect of the Washington Convention

Mr. Jean-Pierre Plantard, Deputy Secretary-General of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), wrote in his Explanatory Report:

It should first of all be stressed that the Convention does not aim at harmonising or unifying the forms that already exist in the different systems of national law. These are neither abolished nor modified. It simply proposes, alongside and in addition to the traditional forms, another new form which it is hoped practice will bring into use mainly but not exclusively when in the circumstances a will has some international characteristics.

Thus, the substantive law of wills in South Australia, relating to matters such as testamentary capacity, signing and witnessing, formal validity, revocation, and so on, has not changed. The Uniform Law merely provides an additional form of will for use by testators, when certain "international characteristics" are present, and which will be recognised as valid in other countries which have acceded to the Convention. In the words of Article I of the Uniform Law:

A will shall be valid as regards form, irrespective particularly of the place where it is made, of the location of the assets and of the nationality, domicile or residence of the testator, if it is made in the form of an international will complying with the provisions set out in Articles 2 to 5 hereinafter.

It is also thought that an international will is more likely, than previously, to be recognised as valid in countries which have not acceded to the Convention.

International characteristics

This expression is not defined, and the validity of an international will does not depend on the presence of international characteristics. However, the presence of one or more of the following features will suggest that an international will may be appropriate:

Requirements for a valid international will

A valid and effective international will must satisfy the following requirements:
The certificate of the authorised person is prima facie proof of the formal validity of the instrument as an international will under the Uniform Law.

Persons authorised to act in connection with international wills

In South Australia, legal practitioners and public notaries are the only persons authorised to act in connection with international wills. However, because notaries are recognised, and relied upon, throughout the world, and because foreign jurisdictions will expect to see the prescribed certificate completed by a notary, it is desirable that the functions of the authorised person under the Convention be performed by a notary.